1. An ancient cosmic or religious symbol formed by a Greek cross with the ends of the arms bent at right angles in either a clockwise or a counterclockwise direction.
2. Such a symbol with a clockwise bend to the arms, used as the emblem of the Nazi party and of the German state under Adolf Hitler, officially adopted in 1935.
[Sanskrit svastikaḥ, sign of good luck, swastika, from svasti, well-being; see (e)su- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)swastika
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.